John Robinson, editor at the News & Record will be January's Greensboro Rioja Tweet Up guest speaker. As editor, John Robinson is in charge of the news, features and sports content of the News & Record. He has been at the paper since 1985, when he started as an assistant city editor.
John was kind enough to take a few minutes to answer some questions about the role of the News & Record and his thoughts on Greensboro.
John C: What's the role of a local newspaper in describing the civic and economic trends and growth of the local area?
John R: In fact, that is the role of the newspaper – to describe the civic and economic trends and growth of the area. More academically, our role is to provide citizens with the information they need to be free and self-governing. Those aren’t my words, but I agree with them. You should be able to arrive in any city, read the newspaper for a week or so, and get a pretty good idea of what the city is like. We tend to write about civic affairs a lot because we think the actions of our governments are significant and, while often boring, have great impact on city life. And if we don’t, who will?
John C: How does the News and Record manage reporting of local news vs national?
John R: We’re a local paper first. While many of our readers still read us for national and world news, we know that our niche is local. It is our expertise, and it is information that people can’t get many other places. Consequently, most days our newspaper front page is dominated by local news.
John C: How are social media and the web changing the way you develop content for the paper and your audiences?
John R: The web has had a dramatic effect on our content development for all of the obvious reasons. When we were once a delivered-once-a-day product, we’re now able to publish 24/7. That means that reporters are posting news and information online throughout the day and into the evening. People are able to read those stories and give us advice on questions to answers, avenues to explore or corrections to make. And we can pursue those as we develop the story for the morning paper. Then, of course, we’re able to publish audio and video so we have some staff who upload interviews and news events. Those are skills that, five years ago, print journalists didn’t need to worry about.
One of our mantras is that we must go to where people are gathering, and they’re gathering on Facebook and Twitter. We use those to push our journalism and to pull in ideas and feedback. We also use them to talk with people and, better, to listen to people. The big challenge for my industry is to figure out how to make money in those places – money that pay for the journalism.
John C: As a newcomer to Greensboro, I arrived here in March, how would you describe Greensboro, and what it has to offer in terms of culture, flavor of life and economic future?
John R: How much time do you have? Greensboro hasn’t grown like Raleigh or Charlotte or Wilmington. Some interpret that as a bad thing, and I suppose that it is when you’re talking about its economy. Fact is, the economy has been slow for several years as the business leaders attempt to retool the base. But as someone who has a job, I consider Greensboro a wonderful place to live and work. It’s easy to get around, there are a lot of things to do and the culture is excellent. Here’s a test: Try to drive through Raleigh or Charlotte between 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. on any weekday. If that’s an enjoyable experience then Greensboro probably isn’t for you. But I know I can go out to a fine restaurant, walk down the street and take in a fine play or get in the car and drive to the symphony. I can go to the Weatherspoon, if I like, or take a day trip to the zoo or to Hanging Rock to hike. And there are no hassles with any of it
The economic future? It’s clearly in question as the civic leadership struggles to find a foothold. Most bets are place on us as a transportation hub. I suspect that’s right…but it is taking longer to develop than most people thought. We’ll see.
John C: Thanks so much for the interview, I'm really looking forward to chatting on the 20th at the Rioja Wine Bar.